The Ultimate Unexpected Gift

Thanks for reading along over these three weeks, as I reflected on some of the people who had an impact on my life. And I trust you have seen from these readings why they are dear to me. Here is a final devotional from Charles Swindoll, who was associated in prior ministry not only with Dallas Theological Seminary and was ordained at the same Dallas church as was I, but also as a pastor of an Evangelical Free Church in California …

The Ultimate Unexpected Gift

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT)

Suddenly, one raw November evening, my old tattered basketball burst. I had already patched the thing twice, which made it bounce funny, making one more patch out of the question. That’s when the hints began. I started my not-so-subtle campaign of dropping hints to my mother about my dream for a new basketball for Christmas, laced with a frenzied, painfully obvious passion for doing my chores—cheerfully!

Christmas Day never arrived so slowly. While no one was looking, I had shaken the box marked with my name enough to know that it had to contain what I had been wanting so badly—right size, right shape, right weight—everything! I tore at the wrapping and ribbon, yanked open the top, and to my disbelieving eyes there it was, A WORLD GLOBE. Looking up at me was Italy, as I recall. The exact size, shape, and weight of a basketball, but a world globe! My heart sank. Ever tried to dribble a world globe?

It was truly an unexpected gift.

What a thrill; all Christmas afternoon I had the joy of locating geographical spots my mother would call out . . . Singapore, Latvia, Montreal, New Zealand, Brazil, Moscow, Norway, and dozens of other spots around the globe. Who on earth needs a WORLD GLOBE? Little did I know back then. Little did I realize that my mother’s gift was a gift given in love—knowing it was what I needed, not what I wanted.

Just like the gift of God’s Son was to a dark and sinful world. Though they didn’t want Him, He gave His Son . . . because He knew that’s what they needed.

How things change with the passing of years. Today, my world has changed from an interest in a bouncing basketball to a needy world. What really excites me now is not a round ball but a huge globe … and the thought of people from every tongue and tribe and nation hearing about and receiving the unexpected gift of God’s love in Christ. It’s the same excitement you’ll find here at Dallas Seminary as we prepare students to offer the ultimate unexpected Gift to those who live all around this huge world globe.

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This entry was posted in Dallas Seminary Christmas, Expectations by Randy Buchman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

1 thought on “The Ultimate Unexpected Gift

  1. I enjoy maps and learning about the world. So this blog post today resonated with me.

    Funny thing about the Bible. I haven’t found anything in the way of sports competitions in the Old Testament. And as far as being impressed by the physical characteristics of any person the Bible doesn’t exalt that capability.

    His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
    the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Ps. 147:10-11 NIV)

    This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.
    (Jer. 9:23-24 NIV)

    Also when Moses asked to see God’s glory God granted him the following.

    Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:5-7 NIV)

    I believe it was Joe Stohl who I heard on the radio pointing out that this is evidence for the mercy of God in the Old Testament.

    So we need to:

    1) Understand that God is merciful.
    2) Teach that God is merciful.
    3) Invite people to enjoy and come to this merciful God.

    For those that fight against his mercy and teach that he is not, they will tend to not be merciful themselves. OR perhaps … what is with Jonah in the book of Jonah? He was angry towards Ninevah, didn’t want to preach to them, and then became angry with God when they repented.

    [Jonah] prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (Jon. 4:2 NIV)

    Later though Nineveh was destroyed, as outlined in the book of Nahum.

    However, how can we ever be merciful enough? It is important though. Jesus taught “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

    It is so sad that is so hard to align my thinking, goals and desires with God. (I’m not just speaking about myself in particular, but we all must continually fight to be aligned with God and his mercy, rather than humans and their shallowness.)

    Yet God does not want mercy shown to corrupting sin, sin that destroys other people. When the disciples try to shoe children away from Jesus, Jesus got angry with the disciples. He told them they had to become like little children to inherit the Kingdom of God. He said other things, and what Jesus said where about children isn’t what I’m laying out here. But at different times he taught us to be kind and he often used the example of children as something we need to aspire to … in terms of making ourselves small and making ourselves servants.

    There is a strange comment about how power affected King Saul in the Bible.

    Samuel said [to Saul], “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.” (1 Sam. 15:17 NIV)

    Tragic. The past tense of Saul “once small” in his own eyes … “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Sam. 15:23 NIV)

    At work hardly a day goes by without people discussing sports. Conversations about Jesus are less frequent. Man, do I need to prioritize my life again and again for God.

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